Move over 3D printer and make way for the 3D pen, the latest tool for textile design.
It’s certainly the preferred implement for Eden Saadon, a recent design school graduate who used a simple 3D pen aimed for kids to create a collection of couture-level, lacy lingerie that is taking the young designer in new directions.
At the time, Saadon was a fourth-year student at the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Ramat Gan majoring in weaving. As she debated what to do for her final project, she happened upon the 3Doodler, a 3D pen.
Saadon was amazed by the pen, which looks like a fat stylus and operates similarly to a glue gun. A thin stick of BPA-free plastic is inserted into the pen, which then melts into a thread that can be used to draw and construct items.
Kids make miniature Eiffel towers, fidget spinners and action figures with the pen, but Saadon saw other possibilities. She began doodling with it, drawing lacy flowers and fish, “a lot of flora and fauna,” she said.
What Saadon liked about the 3D pen was its potential as a tool that could help her earn a living, and not merely graduate with a degree.
Textiles, with its adjuncts of weaving, embroidery and print design, had already opened Saadon’s avid sense of curiosity, and she enjoyed the mathematics of textiles, working on different aspects of it for hours of her spare time.
She had become an avid user of YouTube, using clips on the video-sharing website to hone her embroidery and weaving skills.
It wasn’t all that surprising for the Haifa-born Saadon, who had first thought she would study engineering at the Technion, but fell in love with design during a design tour of Tel Aviv for her mother’s birthday.
Saadon isn’t the first Shenkar student to use 3D printing to create something different and forward-looking. Danit Peleg and Noa Raviv were two recent Shenkar graduates who found spectacular success using 3D printers, and also experimented with it for their final projects.
Peleg’s collection of dresses made waves internationally and she now has a customization platform on her website for customers to personalize and order their own 3D garments. Raviv integrates 3D printing into her designs, which have been displayed at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Both women, however, design clothing while Saadon has focused on textiles.
“What is fabric, after all, but material made out of threads?” said Saadon.
The Shenkar faculty was somewhat disbelieving when they saw Saadon’s fairly rudimentary tool, but they also recognized the amazing potential, she said.
The work of creating fabric out of the 3D pen was hard going at first, said Saadon.
She wanted the fabric she was creating to be related to a body, which she felt was the best way to see if it could be functional. She began with bras, creating cups and straps to see if they would hold together and be comfortable.
“It’s sort of a philosophical question,” she asked. “Can a picture of a bra ‘be’ a bra?”
Once she had reached that stage of the textile, she was working directly on the mannequin, building patterns and connecting each piece of the plastic fabric, scaling it up as needed.
Eventually she created delicate, cobweb-like fabrics that draped gracefully over the mannequin, and others she attached to pieces of tulle and mesh fabric with a heat press, the kind most often used for transferring t-shirt designs.
The results are textiles made out of FLEXY, a specific plastic from 3Doodler that allows Saadon to produce pieces with textile qualities like draping, movement, flexibility and lightness. They’re made from plastic, but are so light and fine in weight that they’re eminently wearable, washable and considered couture in that each of the original seven pieces is one-of-a-kind.
3D Lace, Saadon’s final project brought her to New York this summer for New York Textile Month, and to the headquarters of 3Doodler, where she presented her project to the company, including its founder and creator.
For now, she’s back at work in her home studio, drawing 10 hours a day and working on different ideas, including accessories made of her textiles and a sneaker design.
A small piece of 3D textile can take her 15 minutes to make, while a full dress can take several days of work.
“I don’t know where it will go, but it’s fun that there are 1,000 options,” said Saadon.